Oct 3 - MALAYSIA’S zero-burning techniques may just be the answer toIndonesia’s bushfire woes. Indonesian officials on a recent study tour ofMalaysia felt the techniques could also be adopted to spare the regionfrom further haze problems.
While Malaysia practises zero-burning techniques for second plantings,Indonesia relies on the slash-and-burn concept which has resulted inhealth problems and environmental damage over the years.
In 2002, smoke from forest fires and slash-and-burn land clearing inIndonesia sent scores of people to hospitals, closed schools and delayedflights.
Respiratory and health problems were mounting, schools were closing andsome airline flights were delayed in Indonesian areas of Borneo as smokepollution from forest fires worsened.
Recently, a group of Indonesian officials involved in forestry and theenvironment visited Malaysia’s peat forests and oil palm plantations aspart of a study tour under the Asean Peatland Management Initiative.
The delegates went on a series of field visits to oil palm estates andforest reserve areas in Pahang and Selangor.
The group, comprising government and non-government representatives, wassponsored by the UNDP-Global Environment Centre & Danida Project and theCanadian International Development Agency.
In Selangor, they visited the Raja Musa Forest Reserve in the northwest ofthe State.
Burhanudin Ali, head of Kapuas district in Central Kalimantan, saidIndonesia needed to learn from Malaysia’s capabilities in peat-forestmanagement, particularly in draining peat land for logging and landdevelopment — both of which may contribute to dry-season peat fires.
"We have some problems with drainage in a few places and these have causedforest fires. It happens every year," Burhanudin said.
"We want to learn from Malaysia how to implement the zero-burningtechnique for developing oil-palm plantations on peat land."
Indonesia, he said, lacked the technical know-how.
"There are 3.5 million hectares of peat land in the Kapuas district aloneand we have designated one million hectares for oil palm," he said.
Indonesia, said Burhanudin, lacked regulations and law enforcement.
The group will submit a report to the governor of Central Kalimantan in aweek.
Global Environment Centre director Faizal Parish said the study tour wasbeneficial for both parties, as in return Indonesia could help Malaysiawith its community forestry projects.